This article explores a specific kind of student–patient interaction in Egypt. It demonstrates how the increasing need for patients in medical schools and the shift to a neoliberal economy have generated a population of 'bioavailable' professional patients who find meaning in their diseases and sell knowledge about them in medical schools. The encounter with these patients causes tensions and has its high financial costs for the students; yet, some perceive it as a solution to the shortcomings of the medical system. Furthermore, students view professional patients as a cooperative group who possess extensive medical knowledge and relate to their bodies differently compared to 'ordinary' patients. The encounter highlights the inadequacies pertinent to medical education in this system and shows that the rhetoric of patient-centred training, a common model around the world, can lead to inverted power relations and imbalances in the student–patient encounter.